The GOP’s Post-Election Outreach Hits Some Speed Bumps

March 29, 2013 6:01 a.m.

The GOP’s push for inclusivity suffered some setbacks this week.

Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee released its 2012 election post-mortem, conceding that the GOP must do more to reach out to minority communities. The RNC even pledged $10 million to the effort.

Asked at a press conference how the GOP can bring gays and women into the GOP fold, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said the key is to treat people with respect. “I think it’s about dignity and respect, that nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, or people don’t deserve to be disrespected,” Priebus said on March 18, the day the RNC released its report.

But less than two weeks since then, it has become clear that not everyone in the party is on board with the GOP’s new message of inclusivity. Here’s a rundown of the speed bumps the GOP has encountered this week on its way toward a more tolerant party.Ben Carson Rails Against Gays

As the Supreme Court heard arguments on California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, rising conservative star Ben Carson on Tuesday weighed in on the issue on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

“Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson said. “It’s a well-established fundamental pillar of society. And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. So it’s not something that’s against gays. It’s, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.”

RNC Official Calls Homosexuals ‘Filthy’

Then on Thursday, a Republican National Committeeman in Michigan found himself in hot water over an anti-gay Facebook post. Dave Agema posted an article Wednesday on Facebook that denounced the lifestyle of homosexuals as “filthy.” The article went on to list a number of “statistics” about homosexuals, including a claim that “50 percent of suicides can be attributed to homosexuals.”

A group of Michigan Republicans called for his resignation from the RNC over the post. Agema said the piece was worth sharing as the Supreme Court considers landmark gay rights cases this week. Priebus even weighed in with a statement. “The party’s position on traditional marriage is clear but as I have been saying, all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

Congressman Reminisces About ‘Wetbacks’

Later Thursday came news of Rep. Don Young (R-AK) giving an interview to a local radio station, in which he reminisced about “wetbacks” working on his father’s ranch in California. “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine,” Young said on KRBD.

In a statement after the interview, Young said he meant no disrespect when he used the term. “During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” Young said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

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